Looking out on this snow landscape today, life can seem a little bleak at the moment. After nearly a year in lockdown and zoom meetings it seems like nothing is changing. However, on my lone walks (and now often in company a bit more these days) I see signs of change and new life sprouting. Snow drops, crocuses and other spring flowers are pushing up everywhere. On warm days I see my bees starting to emerge from winter to prepare their colonies for the Queen to start laying again – we beekeepers have also been working hard indoors during winter with building new frames for them to move onto in the spring.
Speaking of nature, we had a fascinating talk about the life and work of May Morris and her embroidery and textile work – very much inspired by nature and medieval symbolism. Her work is beautiful to look at. I am in awe of her stitch work – all very technical and amazing. Needlework was never my strong point at school. My mother despaired trying the teach me to knit – still can’t knit 55 years on! However, I have discovered I have a talent for woodwork (making frames for beehives!) much to my husband’s surprise and blow torching – really exciting – more up my street than stitch work (Sorry Jenni). May Morris’s private life was also absolutely intriguing to hear about – very Bloomsbury set. I have enjoyed many visits to Standen in Sussex and often admired William Morris’s wallpaper – I had no idea about the life of his daughter until our informative talk on Monday. Standen could be a lovely day trip for the summer post lockdown.
Next month’s zoom meeting is going to be rather fun (I hope). We have Cliff Easterbrook – aka The Travelling Talesman regaling us with stories of Wise Women and Foolish Men. Leave your cameras on and stay off mute – join in with oohs and Ahhs and the odd heckle. Invite friends along to watch. You can get a taste of his style from his website. https://www.thetravellingtalesman.co.uk/
The month after we have a video and Q&A from a couple of ladies from Reigate Beekeepers (not me you’ll be glad to hear) on how to make beeswax wraps, which seems to be very much on trend now. As we are more aware than ever the damage plastic and rubbish is doing to our planet it’s wonderful to source recyclable alternatives to plastic bags and learn a new skill in the process. For ladies (and gents) keen in obtaining wax blocks these can be purchased by many Reigate Beekeepers for usually a couple of quid for a two-ounce block. Sounds expensive but 2 ounces goes along way. It can be used for wooden furniture polish too. Please do give me a shout and I can obtain some for you.
So, post lockdown what do you fancy getting out and doing? I’ve got a few local short and longer walks in mind once the mud subsides. One walk will be around Mercers Lake, Glebe Lake and up to Nutfield. A pub will be involved – either the Queen’s Head in Nutfield or the Inn on the Pond. Take a picnic or snack that you can eat on route or you can treat yourself to food at the pub depending on what post lockdown rules allow. Distance from the Mercers lake end of Nutfield Road – 4 to 4 and a half miles or 6 miles if we walk down from Merstham Hub. 2 stiles on the route but you get some glorious views back towards Gatton Park once at Nutfield Ridge. Short cuts and options to avoid stiles available.
A longer walk will take us up onto the North Downs (maybe via Park Ham) and eventually to Chaldon Church to see the medieval doom painting. I’m afraid I have no idea of a pub on the way so take a picnic and we can finish up for tea and cake at Pizza Project. Total walk length around 8-10 miles. There are also plenty of opportunities for evening strolls around Spynes mere and Mercers, possibly with opportunities to forage for elderflower, blackberries, sloes or other edible berries. We can even take a stroll around Priory park and Reigate Heath one evening – there are a couple of really decent pubs to take refreshment at the end.
Come April the blue bells at Gatton Park are just awesome. A walk across the golf course, through RAA (am sure a few of you will be familiar with Gatton Park as you have children at school there) and to Nut Wood to look at the blue bells. Refreshments available at Junction 8. If you have the energy you can continue up to Reigate and Colley Hill. Alternatively, we can turn back and return to Merstham.
I must admit I got rather excited to see a green tube map online. When I am allowed, I’m planning to work round some of these sites and would welcome company. https://helenilus.com/2020/01/29/london-greenground-map-with-distances/
It shows many interesting green spaces within a short walk of tube stations all around inner and outer London.
Some lovely places to visit include Camley Street natural garden – run by London Wildlife trust – right on the grand union canal within walking distance of St Pancras. Very basic café but lovely cakes. Definitely good homemade standard. Beehives tucked in one corner. Pond dipping ponds in tranquil corners and a lovely quiet corner right on the canal. Herons can be spotted within sight of office blocks, luxury flats and canalboats. Worth combining with the canal boat museum. The Chelsea Physic garden definitely worth a visit – It has a Culpeper herb garden and a very Chelsea shabby chic café with prices to match. More beehives (I think we have an ongoing theme here). A pleasant visit that can be combined with a visit to Thomas Carlyle’s house (National Trust).
Hampstead Heath and a visit to Burgh House for afternoon tea is a lovely trip - open water swimming in Hampstead pools a possible visit too. It’s also near the Red Lion Pub and theatre - worth a visit for a pint and a play. Nearer to home we have Farthing Downs in Coulsdon, Morden Hall Park in Morden - Deen city farm nearby and Merton Abbey Mills too (can include a tram ride from East Croydon! Will leave the trip to Ikea for those who enjoy that!) There’s loads more outdoor places we can explore on a travel card.
Hopefully we’ll get some open air swimming locally for those who are keen.
For those that don’t want to go out yet there are some really good tours and entertainment brought to your home on Zoom and Eventbrite – Footprints of London do some excellent tours. Guided walks of Brighton and Sussex do others. The Arthouse Southampton do some excellent drama and folk telling events. Could be fun to do as a group.
So thoughts and suggestions please – answers on a postcard please - Liz